Tag Archives: health

Let Them Eat Pie

What makes each little box on the calendar different from the one beside it? Is it the order it comes in the week? Isn’t there always one before and one after it? What about each day; one day came before and one day comes after? So why is January 1st our best day for new beginnings?

As much as I am waving my foam finger for goal setting, one of the first rules to be successful is that the goal setter must want it and be committed to it. If you decide in December you have a goal but it can wait until January, you don’t want it enough. If you come up with an idea on January 1st because it is January 1st, you don’t want it enough. If you set the same resolution every year, you don’t want it enough.

If you don’t want it, you won’t do it.

So what do you want?

The resolutions I often hear make me realise that few people had to sit through four years worth of goal setting education (I love my Kinesiology degree I promise!) or else we have a lot of rule breakers. So, you want to be more fit. Great let me know when you get there. Oh right, it isn’t measurable. It is also subjective, general, and there is no defined timeline. Maybe the biggest issues with resolutions is just that we need more education on goal setting. I think we set generic goals so we can have a new topic for small talk with co-workers for a few weeks.

I also think by titling something a New Years Resolution, you are destined to fail. You have tied your goal to the connotation that you can carelessly shrug it off in three weeks because it was “only” a New Years resolution. It is like a new toy that gets less shiny and is just plain old boring “this year” before you know it. Few people will follow up with your progress past the end of the month so that you won’t inquire in return what their (lack of) progress is.

If the purpose of your goal setting is because it is a new calendar year then don’t set a goal because you don’t have a reason. Wait until you have a desire, a cause, an internal motivation, or something to propel you besides a lame excuse for a night of boozing.

When I was little, I once decided that my resolution was to not eat pie all year. I remember people laughing and re-telling me this as I grew up. I clearly misunderstood the objective of setting a goal, particularly because I didn’t like pie, but now it seems even funnier to me. I really think that this resolution was as invaluable as what the majority of the population sets. At least I followed through on mine!

This post is not meant to discourage goals in any way, all I want to express is that it needs to have a significance that overrides a date. There is no perfect time to start something good for yourself- you will always be busy, and you will always have distractions. That is something we all need to navigate once we prioritize our seemingly endless list of to-dos.

You can only begin once you know where you want to go.

The other 364 days of the year will be good to you, I promise.

2014

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Women’s Rights

Be warned: this might turn into a rant.

Today was my last day working out in London while I was home to visit family. While the gym I was temporarily using does offer a women’s only area, I didn’t think twice about it before heading out to the gym floor. The main gym is hardly co-ed as it was filled with guys working out in small groups and walking around like they expected girls to ask for their autographs. If you aren’t looking at them then they will stare you down in the mirrors until you do. These guys just reinforce why women deserve a private area to wear their stretchy pants.

At my gym in Toronto, there is no option for a women’s only area. The ladies who don’t feel comfortable in front of the men are relegated to stick to the cardio machines, or let their attendance slowly drop off. Women brave enough to trek into the free weights risk the careful watch of creeping men or the ignorant looks from those who consider them flawless at their “gym ratting” ways. I do see the benefit of offering a separated option in a gym, but if it is done right.

The New Years resolution crowds must have got a head start on January because all of the benches were full, all of the cables were taken, and training partners were eager to step in. So I did a lap and ended up in the women’s area.

I have previously expressed my frustration at women working out differently than men (waving 2.5lb dumbbells at their reflection in the mirror) but as I entered the women’s section I realized that we are set up for it. This area was primarily cardio machines and I had to dig through a pile of mats to find the single Olympic barbell in the place (no joke). Even if you can scout out the barbell, there is no squat rack, and there were only 5 or 6 renegade plates from the co-ed section. The machines looked like they were plastic and I expected to see “Playskool” covered up somewhere. This room begs you to ride an elliptical from any of the endless aisles of cardio that dominate the space, and overlook the mess in the corner (attempted “free weight” section).

Let’s give women some cables and some benches, and some direction as to what would be most valuable to women in the gym. As much as I appreciated being alone with the free weights, it was ridiculous how many women were just doing steady state cardio. Hey, who knows, maybe they are training to become long distance elliptical riders in which case I support their training. In all fairness, maybe they are just doing a cardio day. I know from working in a gym that too many women neglect resistance training, and I am just trying to make a point here. Check out what I wrote earlier (not in a rant): Annie Get Your Guns.

Women are absolutely different than men and this does require some minor changes in training, however, this does not mean in any way that a woman is restricted from going heavier than 5lb dumbbells. Next time you see someone who has a body similar to your “goal self”, ask them how they got there. I would be shocked if anyone said “mindless hours of cardio!” I am not biased at all…. however I have science on my team.

The best advice I can give someone (over blog): get a trainer for a short period of time and learn all you can. Ask lots of questions and pay attention. Show up early, warm up on your own, and cool down on your own. Then follow their advice!!

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Walk the Line

I would like to give credit where credit is due.

Today I got home a little earlier than normal and I am getting ready to go to my parents’ house for a week to spend Christmas with my family. So I am cleaning, doing laundry, taking out garbage and recycling, and all of this requires me to leave my apartment several times. Each time I left my apartment I ran into (sometimes literally) one of my neighbours.

This woman has her never-been-outside-bright-white Velcro walking shoes done up tightly as she walks purposefully up and down the hall. I won’t lie; the first time I saw her I thought she was being creepy and just nosing around. I felt really awkward as I double checked that my apartment door was locked behind me.

So the next time I walked through the hall I stopped to say hi. She told me with a big smile that she was getting her workout in for the day. When I asked her how many lengths of the hallway she walks, she said “Oh I would go crazy if I counted!” which seems funny to me because walking lengths of a short hallway doesn’t seem anything except monotonous, counting or not. She went on to tell me that she sets time goals and then she just walks. I mentioned she try the stairs but her response was that she was waiting until she felt more confident with her balance. Maybe, someday.

I have clients who think that once they pay for their sessions, they have invested in their health. They will show up late, come inconsistently, or complain their way through workouts. When they leave, they always say they are happy they “got their workout in”.

After my encounter with this woman (and several more as I ran up and down the stairs all night) I feel less impressed with my workout today. The gym was empty, I had no distractions, and I worked until I was smelly and grunting. For some reason though, the fact that this woman is doing 30 minutes of walking in a straight line for short lengths, with no music, and no real view; that seems more difficult.

Now if I ever miss a workout I know I will hear her feet padding on the carpet as she paces by. And who knows, maybe I will join her.

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Hunger Gains

I think a good way to gauge how your workouts are going is by how hungry you are. If you are putting in the workouts, it is really surprising just how much you need to eat. Just to clarify- if you are not working out and always hungry then this does not mean you are exercising more than enough… but that is off topic.

Lately it seems like I just can’t eat enough. Work is getting in the way of my eating, and unbelievably so is my sleeping (only on weekends when I actually sleep). One meal just wants to avalanche into the next. On the plus side, my cooking is actually starting to get really good out of necessity. I can only handle so much of one thing.

I remember my brother telling me how he would make pre-meals to eat while he was cooking his actual meal. Look out big brother, I think this Christmas will be a showdown for turkey and potato servings. Tis the season to celebrate competition?

My visits home increasingly turn into some form of fitness competition or display of strength. We earn our rum and cokes.

On Friday, I made the most amazing herb crusted pork tenderloins. I am no chef, but they were perfect. I am also no food critic, but they were perfect. I have to admit I watched them cook with my face and hands pressed up against the oven window like a kid looking in a toy store window for the first time. Maybe I should clarify that my ventures into “real” cooking are still in the early stages and each time I make something delicious, nutritious, and edible, I do a slow motion victory jump in the air. I high five my spatula and then apparently I blog about it.

I just bought a new steamer/ rice cooker that looks like R2D2 and is equally as confusing. The box advertises it as simple but the 35 page manual disagrees. After some light reading (looking at the pictures), I am excited about having it in my kitchen to keep things interesting, if nothing else. My last steamer survived a year- overuse may have been an issue- so hopefully this appliance will be able to handle my version of cooking. Maybe I should have gotten the extended warranty?

On that note, I leave you with a picture of pork tenderloins. Yes, seriously.

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We Eat What We Kill

I had some great advice given to me last week. If you’re trying to find out just what you want out of life, write it out. This may seem silly or ineffective, but I feel like there is a discrepancy between my motivation and my output so I decided to give it a try. It has been a long time since I made a word map (elementary school style) and I had a lot of work that I needed to justify putting off. Done.

I felt like I was in a writing sort of mood. I’m not sure how to describe that feeling, but it felt productive. As productive as I could be from a seated position; it had been a long day. With some blank paper and a pen I prepared to brainstorm. Thoughts and ideas came much easier than I expected, as if my brain had always known what it wanted to say but wasn’t given a pen to write with. I eventually started grouping ideas into categories like health, career, and relationships. My page filled up quickly, sometimes with the same thing written multiple times (staying healthy) or just random words like “design”. There were actually so many solo words that I don’t remember writing that I might have blacked out a few times.

Altogether I made a big list of what I want out of life… it is a lot. I plan to keep digging deeper, too. Everything seems less terrifying when it is written down, though. It is almost like I have removed the ominous darkness from the future and replaced it with black and white. Despite only having a paper full of point form notes more than I did the day before, I do feel like I have more direction. There is something to be said for putting ideas in writing.

The hardest part of reaching a goal is setting a goal. There is a great saying that if your goal doesn’t scare you then it isn’t big enough. Think about it: if you were given a step by step plan to achieve success you would probably follow it, right? So why don’t you write your own plan?… Probably because it is hard.

For the majority of us, we need to work hard to find work. And to keep that work. So we should be channeling that effort to work towards something that is at the end of our ultimate “To Do List”. So what is your ultimate endpoint?

Life lesson from my dad #464: We eat what we kill.

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Push It Real Good

Today I celebrated my quarter life crisis, I mean, my birthday.

Turning 26 is officially entering the darkness of the second half of my 20’s and saying goodbye to the times when stupid decisions are much more socially acceptable.

For my birthday this year I am giving myself the gift of pushups. When I came out of shoulder surgery 8 months ago, my surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to do pushups again because I had lost so much structurally. In my post-surgery daze of anesthetic and disorientation, I cried. I whimpered to my parents as if this exercise was the love of my life and couldn’t live without it. After sobering up I went through a “I have an excuse to never do pushups again” phase and thought I would enjoy my justified laziness.

However, due to my innate human tendencies, if you tell me I can’t do something then I am overpowered by desire to conquer it. I remember doing pushups against the wall for the first time months ago while D was trying to politely tell me how terrible my form was. It was like glorified leaning on the wall and I felt like the Hulk.

Slowly but surely, I worked down to the ground through various stages of incline pushups and to the terror of my friends, I announced I was ready for the real deal. Their faces all said “this will be a train wreck” so we were all pleasantly surprised when I eeked out 3 in a row.

I then ran through the bodybuilders as I screamed “Shoulder champion of the world!!!”

Some days you have to choose brains or brawn.

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Whack A Mole

Oh hey there. Things have gotten crazy on my end so thanks for sticking with me. This has been a time of re-evaluation and analyzing for me. I have had to temporarily refocus myself which meant about a week without exercise but thankfully I have some big goals on the horizon to scare me back to work.

I blogged a few months ago about choosing a direction for ourselves and the importance of making a conscious decision where to place each step. Right now, I feel like one foot is mid- step and I am standing on a single foot sized island. There are many islands around me, and there are boats that can carry me. Most importantly, I can swim. I just don’t know where my compass is pointing me.

We all feel defeated at some point, but with time and effort, we all make a comeback in some form or permutation. If we were never knocked down then how could we know how to stand? If we never felt defeat then how could we appreciate success? If we never left our island, how could we learn to swim? How can we discount negative experiences so quickly and neglect to see that we have gained experience after all? These self taught lessons always teach us best, like the first day of school in big colorful block letters.

There is a saying that things always work out in the end, and if things haven’t worked out yet, it isn’t the end. Eventually the feeling of being the rodent in “Whack A Mole” ends in an unpredictable dimming of lights and sounds, and your head pops up somewhere bright and new. No one really knows when the whacking stops or where the mole ends… but we all agree that those are both inevitable.

Last week I hit some obstacles that I couldn’t see until they blinded me. Even a little stumble is movement and it will only add to my momentum whichever direction I propel myself. Here is to the comeback.

Sounds like this girl needs to go for a trot.

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Squat a Lot

Back to the weights today!

It is a rainy day in Toronto and nothing cures the blues like squats. My bony post-surgery shoulder isn’t a big fan of the barbell but somehow the blasting dance music and the adrenaline of pushing weight rules that out.

I worked out today in the middle of the afternoon; that awkward lull when lunch is past, the trophy wives are done their parade, and the 9 to 5’ers aren’t out yet. This is my favourite part of my job. Actually, this is not part of my job. This is the time when the trainers come out to play. We almost all have breaks here so our overlapping workouts are a chance for us to hang out, but more importantly, show off. I weigh much less, and I am substantially not as strong (I am up against men let’s be serious), but trust me I promote my gains more than anyone. I let everyone know how much I was squatting as I moon walked through the gym floor, shouting out my stats, and giving them all the wink and the gun.

Today I did German volume training… which probably means I need to hang out females more often. 10 sets of 10 barbell squats, then walking lunges, hamstring curls, and knee extensions. Terrible facial expressions and weird sound effects included. By the time I finished, my excitement and shameless self promotion was reduced to bending over and panting with a  little bit of walking like a cowboy. It was all worth it though because today was another first! The first day I have added weight to a barbell squat in over a year. Not necessarily my best decision to combine it with so many reps but things were feeling good. If I am problem- free tomorrow then that means that it is time to squat! A lot!

This seems to be what happens to me when I work out with the guys. I forget about my limitations, and for the most part, that is a good thing.

K is three weeks out from a figure competition and more concerned with caloric intake than anyone I have ever met. I had never seen anyone use a calculator to decide if he could eat an almond or not, but he is 4% body fat so I will let it go. When we workout together I am the official Instagram photographer (you’re welcome ladies) but it is worth it because the high intensity is contagious. It was almost too good of a workout considering that it is 7pm and I can barely stay awake. As a bonus, seeing him practise his poses and giving himself seducing smiles in the mirror makes me laugh so hard that is the only ab workout I will ever need.

Depending on if I can walk tomorrow, I think this may have been leaps and bounds for my progress in the gym!

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What’s For Dinner?!

The always popular question with an ever elusive answer: What is for dinner?! Every day you ask yourself this, kids ask you, or maybe your other half is asking. Food is a part of our lives that will always be present and always be significant. So we should know what we are doing, right.

I am not ashamed to admit I have my weaknesses. Popcorn- I’m a big fan. Marshmallows- I can eat these by the handful. I have already written about rum and cokes more than once. The key is balance and to limit items full of sugar and empty calories. Self control is essential to success, but if you can’t treat yourself occasionally then it will end with a binge and you will regain consciousness with chocolate all over your face and hands. Or so I have heard. Try to plan meals in advance so save yourself the “what is for dinner” question when it is 6pm on a weeknight, and you are staring at the back of your fridge.

A great article was sent to me by a friend about misconceptions of foods and diets that are very prevalent in our world right now. If anything, my style may be a little too free-spirited with the opinion that everything in moderation is the best way to be. My issue in coaching is probably recognizing that a client with a differing definition of moderation might as well be told to keep doing exactly what they are doing. To be honest, I don’t think I can even define moderation. If my pants get tight then I adjust my diet and workouts. That is hard to explain as an an objective plan. The article I’ve attached is definitely more informative than my method of “let’s see what happens when I do this”. For the record, I tend to experiment with myself and not my clients. 🙂

Check out this article from Business Insider on “Nutrition Lies That Made The World Sick and Fat” and see how many of these had you fooled. If it is too much information, just read the bolded summaries at the end of each point. From eggs, to whole wheat, to the carb and protein ratio, this article does a fantastic job targeting all of the biggest myths in my opinion. Aside from the idea that it eating celery is a negative calorie activity… I don’t know who started that but stop spreading it, people.

Consider that different goals require a different diet but I think everyone can take some value from this piece. The second point is my favourite!

Here is the link: http://www.businessinsider.com/13-nutrition-lies-that-made-the-world-sick-and-fat-2013-10?op=1

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The Friday Sessions

There is no workout harder than the Friday afternoon workout. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think. It has nothing to do with the amount of workouts that come before it in the week, or the program I have planned.

During my weekly workout sessions in the gym, I am usually filling a long break between clients. I can take my time between exercises, make awkward conversation with strangers, watch sports highlights, and make sure I don’t miss any of the good songs on my iPod. I enjoy doing all of these things and I take advantage of the time. Whoever set up the seated leg press in front of the TV showing TSN highlights may as well have added my nameplate to the machine. It is an invitation I always accept- to sit and catch up what I missed because I went to bed before the good stuff happens in everything, until someone wants to use it and I have to “work in” with them. My workouts are so long that I have gone with friends to Hero Burger partway through, and I really wish that was a lie. My sessions get spread into various gaps throughout the day which is absolutely less effective, and makes for an unsettling half-sweaty feeling that leaves me unsure where I stand in terms of hygiene standards appropriate for working in a gym.

Friday afternoon workouts are like Eye of the Tiger is being played on a loop, sped up, and volume loud like an airplane. They are like drill sergeants are screaming at you to do more, keep pushing harder, and keep doing it faster. I will sacrifice my reputation to pretend I didn’t hear someone start a conversation and I will let go of my pride as I make loud, whining sounds as I run to the next exercise. Hydration is a dump over the head, a swig with a spit. I can chug water bottles on the way home.

For real. It’s Friday.

Resistance training somehow ends up as cardio as I navigate the floor in a haphazard yet diehard sort of way. I will cut people off to get to the smallest weights, and I will not be embarrassed to be visibly strained before I run to the next exercise avoiding eye contact (I assume would be dirty looks).

I will apologize on Monday. But it is Friday.

I am not getting my “pump” on to go out. Likely, I am going home to an involuntary nap and then episodes of New Girl after I wake up too late to go out. I am not a girl who preps for the weekend like it is the day before a bikini- demanding vacation. My brain has processed how close I am to going home for the weekend and I physically cannot reduce my heart rate until I see the outside world.

Friday workouts require a big effort, a slightly crazy mentality, and a relationship status of single (due to moderate unpredictability of weekend napping to follow).

My plan is to get a run in this weekend and since my back survived my Friday session, it should be good to go. Wave if you see me, I’ll be running with Rub A535 in one hand and a rum and coke in the other.

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